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Resolve to avoid injury when exercising this year

"It actually slows, almost stops, digestion," she said. "That food is not going to be processed. It's just sitting there ... Now your digestive system has to wait its turn."

• Wear appropriate attire. When working out, proper attire isn't whatever looks good on you. It's important to purchase sneakers that support weight-bearing activities and tops that promote movement but aren't too loose. If jogging outdoors, be sure to wear a knit cap in colder weather or a baseball cap in warmer temperatures. Both of these will help you maintain a proper body temperature and ward off harmful side effects such as cold, flu or sunburn.

• Stretch, stretch, stretch. Professional athletes make their living with their bodies, and they stretch extensively before each and every game. Just because you don't earn a ballplayer's paycheck doesn't mean you can avoid stretching. Stretching helps prevent muscle pulls, strains and other injuries, so make sure an adequate stretching routine is a part of your workout.

"What's going to help to prevent injury is getting the blood to the area that's going to be used," Sarbou-Jubert explained. "People that are not used to working out or have never worked out, it's especially important for them to stretch, even afterwards. Because they're the ones that are going to end up a lot more sore than someone who's in the gym all the time."

• Consult or hire a professional. Those who have had an extensive layoff from exercise might want to employ a personal trainer, at least until they get comfortable with a routine. In fact, many fitness clubs offer a handful of free personal training sessions to new members to ensure all members start off safe and avoid injury. Take advantage of such sessions if they're available. If not, hire one of the club's personal trainers, even if it's only for a few sessions, at the onset of your routine.

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